Adventure Time is a hugely popular cartoon series that is primarily targeted at teenagers and young-adults, but has found a following among people older than that as well. The cartoon is light-hearted and extremely funny, which is what makes it so incredibly popular. In Adventure Time, we follow the adventures of Finn the human and Jake the dog. Together they… well… go on epic adventures together, that often get them into difficult situations!
One episode featured a card game called Card Wars, an episode that became a huge hit after its airing. So much so, in fact, that Cryptozoic, the same developers behind HEX: Shards of Fate, released a physical card game based on the show’s version of the game. Card Wars – Adventure Time is a turn-based card game on iOS and Android that was subsequently born from the success of the physical card game. It’s time to “Floop the pig” and delve into this crazy card game!
Is Card Wars – Adventure Time a decent game, or is it a cheap cash-in of the franchise? Read on to find out…
This short clip is from the episode in which Finn and Jake play Card Wars. (Be aware, the rules in the episode make little to no sense! Luckily the release of the official game does have rules!)
Luckily, Card Wars – Adventure Time is far easier to play than in the TV show and makes a lot more sense thanks to the inclusion of proper rules and phases. You take your pre-constructed deck and choose a hero before heading into battle against the A.I. or another player – depending on the mode you’ve chosen to play.
The graphics are faithful to the show, with a silly yet charming aspect to them. You play on a 3D board that has been set up in Jake and Finn’s treehouse. The game also features seasonal updates that will change the décor of the treehouse – such as the Christmas theme in this review’s screenshots!
Before you can begin playing, you will need to place your Landscapes on the board. These are played to your four available lanes and can consist of as many as four different Landscapes or as few as one type of Landscape to best suit the cards in your deck. Now the Flooping can commence! Well, not entirely true, but we’ll get to Flooping shortly.
Card Wars uses the ever-popular incremental resource system to pay for the cost of your cards. In this game the resource is called Magic (nice homage there to the game they’re honoring with theirs!), and you’ll start the game with two Magic points. At the start of each of your turns your maximum Magic will increase by one and you can use this to play creatures, spells, buildings, or even pay for the Floop cost of a card in play.
Flooping a card is where you activate that card’s special ability (and is akin to “tapping” or exhausting that card). Every creature has its own Floop ability, with the rarer cards containing some stupidly powerful effects. Most of the Flooping effects revolve around the creature’s theme and the Landscape they are played to.
In most instances, the creature cards in Card Wars can only be played to their corresponding Landscape. Some are neutral and can be played to any Landscape, but there aren’t too many of those. This means that when you build your deck, you will need to keep this restriction in mind. Spells are played in the same phase as summoning creatures, so there are no nasty surprises from your opponent!
You can only have one creature in a lane at a time, and the same goes for buildings too. You can however swap a new creature into the same space, and this is something you’ll find yourself doing as your Magic increases to replace weaker units with stronger ones.
After you’ve set up your board with creatures and buildings, it is time to enter the battle phase. The game uses a dexterity-based spinning dial mechanic that is divided into three zones (2 for a direct attack): Good, Perfect, and Miss. Although creatures have attack and defense (read: health) statistics, you can do double the damage of a creature’s printed value by tapping the dial when the sword is pointing at the Perfect zone.
This system is used in defense too. By hitting the Perfect zone you will block the attack entirely and then retaliate with a critical strike against the attacker. Anywhere in the Good range causes a normal amount of damage, or a basic block that mitigates all damage — I shouldn’t need to explain the effects of a miss, of course!
The inclusion of this system breaks the normal monotony of a traditional battle system and I actually really like it. It’s not always as easy as it looks, and the variance of some critical hits and misses makes for more tense gameplay. If it wasn’t for this feature, the game would feel a little more generic. Luckily it fits in extremely well with the game’s theme and aesthetics.
After much Flooping and dexterity-based attacks, you will have hopefully drained the opponent of their life points and emerged as the “Cool Guy”!
MODES AND FEATURES
The great thing about the Quest mode in Card Wars – Adventure Time is that it is long, so you have a lot of gameplay ahead of you. In addition to this, you can play missions multiple times and earn new rewards each time you do. You can earn cards, the game’s soft currency of coins, and the premium currency of gems, though the latter is earned at a very slow pace.
To participate in a battle you need to use energy. In Card Wars this is represented as hearts and you have a limited supply of these. During your early levels of the game you will be able to reset your hearts often enough to keep going for a generous number of hours before you need to refill them.
However, later on, the game starts to make a cheeky grab for your wallet. In order to be able to continue playing, you will need to refill your hearts by paying a gem. Now, as these are earned slowly, you will want to save them for acquiring cards instead. Each card will cost you three gems to purchase from the event chest, with another allowing you to spend 10,000 coins to acquire a less powerful card.
With you needing to complete each mission three times before you earn a single gem from it, you’re going to be refilling your hearts faster than you can buy cards. So with that comes the gems shop, and at $0.99 a gem, it’s far from a fair trade-off.
You can earn additional cards from the missions themselves and are often rewarded with loot when you kill an enemy creature, though this is never a guarantee and the chances of rare loot drops is extremely slim. The simple fact remains that if you want powerful cards, you’re going to have to spend some money.
Crafting is a feature that can bolster your rare card numbers too, but at the sacrifice of two or more cards. Because the acquisition of cards is a slow process, you’ll often not have the necessary materials needed to craft a new creature – making this feature redundant about 95% of the time you’re playing.
Playing online is for the competitive player, where wins will earn you points for the leaderboard. If you’ve paid to play then you’re going to have a good time. If you haven’t, well you may be able to scrape a win or two against new players, but as you climb, the matches will get progressively harder.
Tournaments offer you the ability to earn a reward – no matter your final placement. If you manage to come first, you will earn The Black Card — a card so powerful that not even I have seen it! Perhaps you’ll have better luck than me.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
The simplicity of the deckbuilder in Card Wars – Adventure Time makes building your deck a breeze. Choose your hero from many of the Adventure Time regulars and then fill your deck with cards. After you’ve built your deck you can choose your deck’s needed Landscapes that you’ll put into play before the match-up.
The game features an excellent sorting system so that you can see at a glance the basic information that’s important to you as you build your perfect deck. All of the cards can be checked in greater detail by tap-holding on that specific card too.
When building your deck, you need not be afraid of committing to four different creature types because you can choose enough Landscapes to fit them. The only issue is if you include only one of a type and you don’t draw it, that lane may be useless for the entire game. Make sure you include enough of a type if you’re going to adopt this strategy.
Mono-Landscape decks will have an easier time, but lack the versatility of non-mono decks. You should be able to play a card or two every turn at the cost of not being able to heal or inflict direct damage.
Your resource curve is also something you need to worry about when building a deck. If you include too many high-costing cards you’ll be many turns behind the opponent, and by the time you play a creature, they’ll have been sitting on a way to remove it. Ensure you balance the numbers so that you should be able to play something on your opening turn and every turn thereafter.
Buildings give your creatures strategic advantages that can enhance their survivability, damage, or defense. Be sure to include a few of these in each of your decks as they can be played on any Landscape without taking up the creature’s space. Failing to utilize buildings is missing out on a crucial element of strategy in this game.
Card Wars – Adventure Time was one of the most entertaining, but also most disappointing, games I’ve played lately. If it wasn’t for the unfair monetization of the game, it would have scored very highly. The fact that you have to pay for the game upfront, and then still spend more money to remain competitive lets the game down tremendously.
The combat system sets it apart from much of the competition with the inclusion of the dexterity element. I am really fond of this feature and would encourage more developers to use a similar system in their casual card battles. It is a feature that sits right at home in this specific genre.
There is plenty to love in Card Wars. The tongue-in-cheek humor coupled with some decent gameplay make for a really enjoyable gaming experience. Tournaments give everyone a prize for participating and that’s an encouraging step, though the game needs to be far more generous with its gems — especially as you will be spending them just to acquire more of them!
Card Wars – Adventure Time forgot to Floop its own pig… and is now wiped out by its own Cash Cow! Never mind. It’s still worth a play, even for the enjoyable campaign mode.
For more screenshots, click here.
Did you enjoy this review? Like!